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‘I don’t know what normal is’

Family reunites through visitation program
‘I don’t know what normal is’
‘I don’t know what normal is’
Alisa Blessett shows her mother, Evon Layer, a quilt made for Layer’s great-granddaughter Ariel during the June 15 family visit at Harrison Springs Health Campus at Corydon. Photo by Joey Bowling
Joey Bowling, Intern, [email protected]

Evon Layer and Alisa Blessett didn’t expect the pandemic to last this long. They’d both gone months without seeing each other in person. A hospital visit in April gave the mother and daughter a chance to see each other once during the three-month period, and even that only lasted a few hours.

Blessett had strong-armed hospital and nursing home staff to let her take her mom from the hospital to Harrison Springs Health Campus in Corydon.

“Mom, it’s a pretty day. If you feel up to it, we’re gonna take a drive.”

“Really?”

“Yep, where do you wanna go?”

They took the winding way back to the long-term care facility, with Layer able to visit her husband’s grave and their old house before re-entering Harrison Springs.

Earlier this month, Indiana health campuses could allow in-person visits following state guidelines.

Layer and Blessett were able to visit each other face to face and talk June 15 while following rules at Harrison Springs: masks on at all times, six feet apart, no hugs.

“I don’t know what normal is,” Layer said.

Still, it was better than nothing, Blessett said.

She and Layer use Zoom to talk and update the other about family events. Layer also uses the video service to talk with her other children.

However, not everything can be replaced in the pandemic. The birth of two great-grandchildren had lifted everyone’s spirits, though Layer hasn’t been able to hold the babies like she had with each one of her grandchildren.

Blessett said one of the few reasons she hadn’t pulled Layer out of Harrison Springs was because she knew her mother would be treated well at the facility. Layer had the independence she wanted and still was able to interact with people.

“I feel safe,” Layer said.

There was also the social aspect of it all, Layer said.

She is able to play bingo still, though it isn’t communal. Instead, each person plays inside their rooms. A staff member then goes from one end of the hallway to the other yelling the different tiles to mark off.

Layer still forgets her mask sometimes, but the staff reminds her to go back to her room or she can’t come out.

Harrison Springs closed itself off in early March. The facility works to give families regular updates about its safety protocols and new policy changes. Of the different Trilogy Health Services campuses, Harrison Springs is one of the few to not yet have a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Community services representative Amy Pittman said she attributes their success to Harrison Spring’s general cleanliness. There are regular temperature checks, the entire facility is scrubbed weekly and common areas are cleaned more often than that.

Pittman said the staff tries its best to continue fostering a social atmosphere.

There’s still happy hour events, but now it’s been modified to be door to door.

“This is a really social building,” Pittman said. “We become the residents’ family, but we become the extension.”

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